Over 400 lamb carcasses destroyed due to disease outbreak

Over 400 lamb carcasses have been destroyed due to an outbreak of a disease called sarcocystosis, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed.

Veterinary personnel working for the department condemned the carcasses at a number of sheep slaughter plants, over the space of a few weeks, as being unfit for human consumption.

comprehensive system of ante and post-mortem inspection is in place for all animals slaughtered in Irish meat plants, the department added.

“Where animals fail to meet the required standards, they are excluded from the food chain.

The carcasses were excluded from the food chain. The animals have been traced and the cause of the problem has been diagnosed by the Department Regional Laboratory as sarcocystosis.

The disease can generally only be definitively diagnosed following a post-mortem. Sarcocystosis causes cysts to form on the host’s muscles.

Humans, horses, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, birds, rodents, and reptiles can all contract the disease. The cysts vary in size from a few micrometers to a few centimeters, depending on the host and species.

The disease is believed to develop in the host for between one and two weeks after it ingests muscle tissue that contains Sarcocystis cysts, the final host will then begin to shed the infective parasites in its faeces; shedding continues for several months.

As the carcasses were condemned before they entered the food chain, it is believed the possibility of the disease being passed on to humans has been eliminated.

If a person is infected with the disease, symptoms can include nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea. However, the chances of infection are reportedly greatly reduced if the meat is cooked properly or has been frozen.

Department officials are reportedly investigating the disease outbreak, which is alleged to have originated in Co. Donegal.